bespoke bacteria for biomanufacturing
Sarah Richardson, Ph.D. specializes in the design of genomes. Richardson earned her B.S. in Biology at the University of Maryland College Park; with the support of a prestigious DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship she earned a Ph.D. in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. As a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow of Genomics at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory she worked on massive scale synthetic biology projects and the integration of computational genomics with experimental genomics at both the Joint Genome Institute and the Joint BioEnergy Institute. In 2015, she was named a SynBio LEAP Fellow for her “leadership potential and vision for shaping a future in biotechnology.” That same year, she was also one of five promising young female scientists to receive a postdoctoral fellowship award from L’Oréal USA. She used the funds to study the domestication of non-model bacteria.
Team member Margaret Brown, Ph.D. specializes in the chemistry of biology, particularly the enzyme catalog of non-model organisms and the metabolic engineering of model organisms for biomanufacturing. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. While a postdoctoral fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Joint BioEnergy Institute she investigated the allosteric regulation of fatty acid metabolisms and leveraged CRISPR toolkits to develop strains of E. coli that catabolize components of the chemical warfare agent sarin. She brings to MicroByre a deep knowledge of bacterial chemistry and the solution space of bacterial manufacturing.
Critical need: Bacteria run this planet—they exist in every niche and influence everything from soil productivity to human health. We use a few to make economically important products, but the vast majority of the bacteria with useful chemistry cannot currently be grown or manipulated in the lab. Biomanufacturing is therefore limited to a few species.
Technology vision: MicroByre makes interesting and intractable bacteria tractable—therefore more interesting. We want production to be a matter of picking the right species from a catalog, freeing bioengineers from spending inordinate amounts of time coaxing reluctant bacteria to do something against their best interests. When new species become available, engineers can use the techniques and insights gained from model organisms to reach new frontiers in manufacturing, medical production, and bioremediation.
Current state-of-the-art: The bacteria that can be grown can usually not be directly genetically engineered; the bacteria that can be directly engineered are naturally unsuited to commodity production.
Key innovation: We domesticate bacteria! We turn cool-looking and potentially useful but aloof wolves into cool-looking, docile, friendly dogs.
Potential for impact: Bacteria run this planet. If we can begin to engineer them reliably, we might have a shot at inheriting it.
We're looking for:
- Technical collaborators
- Joint development partners
Contact: social [at] microbyre [dot] com)